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Owls Finish Fifth At Mountain Bike National Championships

Owls Finish Fifth At Mountain Bike National Championships

Missoula, MT --The Warren Wilson Cycling Team competed this past week at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships in Missoula, M.T. The three day event held Oct. 19-21 consisted of five mountain bike discipline championships--cross country, dual slalom, short track cross country, downhill, and team relay.

The Owls racing team was comprised of Mason Hopkins and James Mayer. Both racers performed well in their respective races. Hopkins placed 4th overall in the Women's Omnium Division 2 competition, competing in all 5 events. Mayer competed well in endurance events (cross country and short track cross country) and team relay.

On Friday, the cross country races were held. Mayer competed well in a strong field of 65 men's varsity racers. Hopkins also performed well in a strong field of 48 women's varsity racers. Later that day, Hopkins would take to the Dual Slalom qualifying round and qualified in the top 3 of Women's Division 2 Varsity and top 30 overall in Women's Varsity, her best finish to date in this gravity event.

On Saturday, Hopkins and Mayer competed in Short Track Cross Country. Hopkins finished in the top 10 of Division 2 Women's Varsity and garnered a top 35 overall placing. Mayer finished well in the top 50 overall and top 15 in Division 2 Men's Varsity.

That afternoon, Hopkins also put in a strong run in Downhill seeding, positioning herself well for the finals on Sunday.

Later Saturday evening under the lights, Hopkins would finish Dual Slalom in 30th position overall and top 5 in the Division 2 Women's Varsity.

On Sunday, Hopkins trimmed 30 seconds off her qualifying run in the Downhill Varsity Finals, placing in the top 30 overall and top 6 in Division 2 Women's Varsity.

The last event of the day was the exciting Team Relay. In this event, teams of 2-4 complete a lap each of a short track loop, alternating male-female or female-male where no one racer can complete 2 consecutive laps. The Owls were one of 2 team that only had 2 racers and was the only one in the Division 2 field. On lap 1, Hopkins showed good form, getting a good start and handling the flyover with excellent form. Unfortunately, she would have a flat tire and have to run over half of the lap with her bike. Mayer then took the next lap at a breakneck speed. Hopkins would then complete the next lap on her other bike and James would finish off the relay. The team showed great resiliency and a "never give up" attitude throughout and garnered the respect of other teams and USA Cycling officials.

Overall, the team finished 5th in Division 2 Varsity. This accomplishment was remarkable given the size of the Owls team and points to the skill and tenacity of Hopkins and Mayer. Head Coach Mandy Gallagher eagerly stated that, "This team has a lot of heart and a strong drive to succeed. I couldn't be any prouder of them. The relay especially shows the true spirit of the Warren Wilson Cycling Team!"

The team will next switch gears to cyclocross, with their first races on Nov. 10 and 11.